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Newton, MA, United States | Member Since 2014

  • 4 reviews
  • 53 ratings
  • 392 titles in library
  • 15 purchased in 2015

  • The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist's Quest for What Makes Us Human

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By V. S. Ramachandran
    • Narrated By David Drummond
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    V. S. Ramachandran is at the forefront of his field - so much so that Richard Dawkins dubbed him the "Marco Polo of neuroscience". Now, in a major new work, Ramachandran sets his sights on the mystery of human uniqueness. Taking us to the frontiers of neurology, he reveals what baffling and extreme case studies can teach us about normal brain function and how it evolved.

    Michael says: "Great if you like understanding how brains work"
    "Some novel science plus a lot of speculation"

    Having heard of Ramachandran's work before reading this book, I had high expectations. Some of those were fulfilled, in hearing about synaesthesia and mirror neurons. However there is also a huge amount of plain discussion and even sheer speculation about art, beauty, and the evolution of human preferences. For example, he invents a list of principles of aesthetics, without reference to any artists or prior thinking on the subject. Overall there was enough science to make it interesting. The narration is a bit breathless, like listening to 777-FILM.

    4 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Haruki Murakami
    • Narrated By Rupert Degas
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife's missing cat.... Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo. As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid 16-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan's forgotten campaign in Manchuria.

    REBECCA says: "Wonderful book, flawed narration."
    "Memorable performance, interesting but flawed work"
    If you could sum up The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle in three words, what would they be?

    3 words: surreal, sinister, gripping.

    An ordinary life goes slowly and then not so slowly off the rails, until the line between dreams and waking is no longer clear. The cast of characters is rich and interesting.

    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    If felt like the author kind of gave up on making a coherent story of all the threads he had been drawing out through the book. Instead of the lines converging, they mostly proceed independently towards the horizon. The Manchurian war episodes contrast jarringly with the domestic life portrait.

    What does Rupert Degas bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    By far the best thing about the experience. The range of different accents and affects he brings to the characters, like the threatening messenger or the teenage girl, is wonderful. The quiet, sibilant politician's voice will stick in my ear for a long time.

    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    It certainly kept me awake late several nights.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Bleak House

    • UNABRIDGED (35 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Charles Dickens
    • Narrated By Sean Barrett, Teresa Gallagher
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    A complex plot of love and inheritance is set against the English legal system of the mid-19th century. As the case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce drags on, it becomes an obsession to everyone involved. And the issue on an inheritance ultimately becomes a question of murder.

    "A new art form"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Absolutely terrific. Not only is it a great story but the narration with dozens of different voices is like listening to a play. Except the play goes on for days, so by the end the characters are unforgettable and will stay in memory for a lifetime. Bravo to the actors!

    What did you like best about this story?

    Intricate plot, the way people put together such complex sentences back then.

    Which character – as performed by Sean Barrett and Teresa Gallagher – was your favorite?

    Grandpa Smallweed was a complete hoot.
    The voice of George was perfect.
    A young man named Guppy was also spot on.

    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    After listening to it for the three weeks, I went right back to the beginning and listened all over again. What a classic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Calcutta Chromosome: A Novel of Fevers, Delirium & Discovery

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Amitav Ghosh
    • Narrated By Simon Vance

    From Victorian India to near-future New York, The Calcutta Chromosome takes listeners on a wondrous journey through time as a computer programmer trapped in a mind-numbing job hits upon a curious item that will forever change his life. When Antar discovers the battered I.D. card of a long-lost acquaintance, he is suddenly drawn into a spellbinding adventure across centuries and around the globe, into the strange life of L. Murugan....

    Laura says: "What fun!"
    "Science fiction or science history? Both!"

    This was offbeat but quite enjoyable. It has quite a lot of science history in it, told from a dystopic future world, and there is even a bit of ghost story to it. The most amusing part was the enthusiastic bumbling of the main protagonist in the story told in a voice that rings true (I had a co-worker like that once...) I'd recommend it, though there are a few caveats. It started a little slow. Because of the mix of the fiction and fact, it's hard to know which historical data can be trusted and which cannot. Also, the ending felt abrupt and unsatisfying. But until the last ten minutes, I steadily enjoyed it more and more.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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